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10 Reasons Why Baseball Teams Don’t Have Names on Jerseys

Have you ever noticed that some teams have their names on their baseball jerseys while others don’t? While it is common to see names on the backs of jerseys, there are still a handful of teams that don’t include a name, like the New York Yankees. There are a few reasons for this discrepancy that you may not know about. Why do some baseball teams not have names on jerseys?

Some baseball teams elect to not have names on jerseys as a way to create team chemistry. No names on jerseys signals to players that they are on the same team and that one individual is not bigger than the rest of the team. However, there are additional pragmatic reasons to not include names.

Backside view of a player in a pinstripe uniform who just made contact with a pitch

In this article, I’ll cover 10 reasons in detail for why teams don’t have names on their jerseys. If you’re looking to learn more about baseball uniforms and the rules and traditions surrounding them, be sure to stick around. Let’s get started!

1. It’s Not Necessary To Put Names on Jerseys

First of all, the MLB doesn’t require that teams put their names on the backs of their player’s jerseys. In fact, most baseball leagues of all competition levels don’t require names on the backs of players’ jerseys.

In the MLB, it’s up to the team owner whether they want to include names. In other non-professional leagues, it’s usually up to the manager or coach. Since names are not required on jerseys, not every team will want to include a name.

If a team does add the name to the jersey, the reason for doing so is so that the players are easier to identify, especially during away games. That’s why you’ll notice some professional baseball teams include their names on their traveling uniforms, but not their home ones.

For example, the Boston Red Sox and the San Francisco Giants traditionally don’t have names on the backs of their home jerseys, but they do have names on the backs of their away jerseys.

On the other hand, the New York Yankees have never worn names on the backs of their jerseys. This includes both home and away jerseys.

Overall, baseball teams don’t have their names on their jerseys, so some choose not to. They may have different reasons why they decide to include their last names. The final decision is up to the franchise owners in the MLB.

2. No Names Creates Team Chemistry

Having jersey names can hurt team spirit. While not all players are impacted the same by whether or not a name is on a jersey, some managers believe it makes famous players stand out more, which can create feelings of jealousy or make working together difficult. However, leaving the names off can have the opposite effect.

Not including names on the jersey enhances team spirit. Not having names reinforces that no single player is bigger than the team. With this in mind, many players tend to put more effort into cooperating with their teammates.

3. It’s a Tradition To Exclude Names on Jerseys

Ever wonder why the Yankees don’t have names on their jerseys?

A big reason for teams like the Yankees to not include names on their jerseys is that it’s a tradition! Some teams have never included their names on their uniforms and they still don’t today.

What most people don’t know about MLB jerseys is that the backs of jerseys didn’t include a name or a number until 1937. On April 16, 1929, the Cleveland Indians were the first team to debut numbers on the backs of their jerseys. And it wasn’t until 1937 that all MLB teams included numbers on their jerseys.

Since jerseys initially didn’t have names or numbers on the back of jerseys, some teams carried on the tradition of no names on jerseys, even after numbers were added.

4. Fans Already Know the Names of the Players

Another reason players don’t use their names is that the team expects fans to know their names. If a fan doesn’t know who a player is, they’ll have to look them up by their number. Some believe this process makes fans less likely to forget who players are.

Many baseball fans also enjoy learning about the players and who they are. Since announcers always state who’s next at-bat, many fans feel it’s redundant to have the names on the jersey.

5. Fans Can See Jersey Numbers Better 

Not having names on jerseys also makes it a lot easier for spectators to see the large numbers on the back of a jersey, especially when they’re high up in the stands!

Fans who are far away from the field are not able to read names on the backs of jerseys. So it’s usually better for fans to be able to clearly see a number than to try to read a name.

Longer last names also have to be in smaller print to fit on the jersey. This fact can make it even harder for fans to tell who some of the players are, especially when fans are at a distance.

6. Leaving Out Jersey Names Sold Programs

At one point in time, prior to being able to use cell phones from your seat, keeping players’ names off the uniforms helped sell programs. When fans who came to the game didn’t know who a player was, they’d have to purchase a scorecard or program.

It was a quick way to sell some additional merchandise at the stadium. Plus, fans also loved having these moments to take home with them!

7. The Game Is at Home

Some teams have names on the uniforms for their away games, but not their home games. The idea is that their hometown fans will already know who the players are, making names on the jerseys redundant.

This is most notably true for the Boston Red Sox and the San Francisco Giants. Both of these teams include a name on their jersey for their away games, but they do not have names on their jerseys for home games.

For some teams, it never felt necessary since their fans already can recognize them by their numbers alone. Since franchises have road and home uniforms that look different, they didn’t feel the need to add their names to the home uniforms.

8. All Jerseys on a Team Need to Match

The official uniform rules for the MLB state that if a team adds a name to one jersey, all other uniforms will need the names included (See Rule 3.03).

In other words, all players on the team need to have the same uniform. If the consensus on the team is that there will be no names on jerseys, then everyone must follow that rule.

Teams are not allowed to have some players with names on the backs of their jerseys while other players do not have names.

9. Updating Names on Jerseys Can Be a Hassle

Although this doesn’t happen very often, some players may need the name on their jersey updated. This can be either because they want to go by a nickname or because they changed their name.

Whatever the reason for needing a name changed, it becomes a hassle for that player to get a new jersey with their new name.

In addition to a hassle for the player, this can also be a hassle for fans. Fans already know a player by their name and number, so seeing a new name with the same number will lead to confusion.

10. No Names on Jerseys Can Save Money

Depending on the company you’re buying jerseys from, including names on the backs of jerseys can be an additional cost.

If a manager or a coach is concerned about cost, cutting out the last name on a jersey can be an effective way to keep costs down.

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Steve Nelson

I'm the owner of Baseball Training World. I live in Denver, Colorado and I enjoy playing baseball in an adult baseball team in the surrounding area. Read more about Steve Nelson.